Chicago Blackhawks

Brouwer's net presence effective for Blackhawks

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Brouwer's net presence effective for Blackhawks

Monday, Feb. 14, 2011
Posted 2:58 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Troy Brouwer was making a pest of himself in front of Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov on Saturday night. Down 2-0 at the time, the Blackhawks needed equalizers and a presence there.

Brouwer supplied both, getting the Blackhawks first power-play goal and providing the perfect screen for Duncan Keiths tying one.

Screener, deflector, target, whatever the label, Brouwer has been effective when hes been a net presence. And the Blackhawks will need that nuisance factor during this stretch run where every goal, every point, every game is so critical.

Hes a target that we know is going to be in front of the net and hopefully we dont hit him and we hit the mesh, defenseman Brian Campbell said. He causes traffic down low and finds an open area. Thats what good goal-scorers do and he can do that in a lot of ways. Hes just great at deflecting pucks and works hard.

Brouwer has 16 goals this season, six shy of his career-high of 22 last season, and a good chunk of those have come from right in front. Brouwer said the net work comes from a message he got as a kid.

I had a coach when I was younger who said, if you dont play in front of the net, youre not going to play. Since a young age Ive always been one of the bigger guys, Brouwer said. Its just a job you get accustomed to.

And its a job thats reaped he and the Blackhawks rewards when its been there. Coach Joel Quenneville said it is imperative it continues, especially on the advantage.

I thought (Brouwers) positioning was great (on Saturday). That was the reason why we scored the tying goal was his presence in front of the net, he said. Whether its him or (Tomas Kopecky), its the difference in how effective we are on the power play.
Desperate times
The Blackhawks have 26 games remaining to make waves and get back into the Wests top eight. And the critical label has been slapped on every one of these games.

We really havent given ourselves any room for anything right now. We have to win and we have to win in a good amount here, Brouwer said. If we dont put together a couple of wins here, its going to be almost impossible for us to get back into the playoffs.

READ: Former Hawk Versteeg traded to Philly

The Blackhawks need to be especially diligent at home, where theyll play their next three games. But right now, winning anywhere would be good.

Its critical to win as many games as possible, whether home on the road, Campbell said. We probably need a near-perfect home schedule. Theres no time to have any lapses at this point. We have to come out strong.

Hossa healing

Marian Hossa said hes feeling better after suffering the flu during the Blackhawks victory over Edmonton on Wednesday.

It wasnt fun, said Hossa. I threw up through the second and third periods. I had two days rest (before playing in Phoenix) and they gave me an IV and the next day I felt pretty good. Im feeling much better.

Updates

Patrick Kane and Jake Dowell were out with the flu and defenseman Duncan Keith took a maintenance day on Monday. Quenneville expects all three of them to be back for Tuesdays practice.

Fernando Pisani (upper body) is still day to day and Ryan Johnson (upper body) is on injured reserve.

Line change

Dave Bolland centered a line with Michael Frolik and Marian Hossa on Monday. Quenneville said theyll give that line a try on Wednesday night against the Minnesota Wild.

Theyll get quality ice time and were going to need that line to be effective for us, said Quenneville. Hopefully that line can have the puck a little bit more. I thought the last game (Hossa) played he did have the puck a lot more and was more of a factor.

Frolik, who was acquired on Wednesday from Florida, was working with assistant coach Mike Kitchen long after his Blackhawks teammates were done on Monday.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Blackhawks' young players brimming with confidence

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks' young players brimming with confidence

Ryan Hartman is entering this training camp with a much higher level of confidence. Having a spot on this roster, something he wasn’t sure he’d have entering last fall, helps. But the confidence is a byproduct of his entire rookie season and every experience it brought with it.

“You get a full season under your belt and you’re able to feel out the game, adjust your speed and your quickness to the pace of the NHL game,” he said. “Last year was a big step for all of us, coming in here this year knowing what to expect, knowing how to play their game right and thinking of what to do on the ice.”

As several of the Blackhawks embark on their second season in the NHL there’s more certainty in their approach, whether they’re already part of this roster (Hartman and Nick Schmaltz) or trying to get one of the few coveted spots remaining (John Hayden and Vinnie Hinostroza).

When Schmaltz entered camp last fall he was fresh out of college and admittedly apprehensive – “I was nervous coming in, didn’t know if it was going to work,” he said at the team’s convention in July. There has been none of that this past week. A stronger, more confident Schmaltz has emerged, one that’s approached coach Joel Quenneville enough to give him a shot at the second-line center role.

“Yeah, it’s just familiarity with the coaching and the players,” he said. “You just know what to expect, you kind of come in with a good mindset and start off on the right track right away.”

Much like 2016, Hinostroza is on the bubble again this fall. But unlike last September he’s not sweating what may or may not happen out of camp.

“This year I feel like I’m more mentally stronger, more mature,” he said. “I don’t feel pressure at all. Maybe a year ago I did, thinking, ‘what are these guys going to do?’ But this year… I’m trying to focus on myself and I’m confident where I’m at. I made some improvements. I’m just going to believe in myself and the rest will play out.”

Hayden, on the same bubble as Hinostroza, got a taste of the NHL late last spring following his senior season at Yale. It was a small sample size but Hayden nevertheless got a good idea of what to work on entering the fall – improving his speed was a big focus – and what to expect overall.

“It’s so fast at this level. So yeah, it definitely helped playing games at the end of the year. If anything, told myself I belong at this level. There are familiar faces at camp, and it’s my job to prove I deserve to be on the team,” he said. “No [pressure]; you just control what you can and that’s my play. I put the work in for the offseason and now I have to play my game.”

Hartman’s biggest adjustment came with the speed, too – “it’s a completely different level from Rockford to here, the pace of play and how quickly everything happens,” he said. That, and being confident enough to know when to hold the puck and when to give it up.

“Right away I was getting the puck and wanting to get it to someone else just so I didn’t make a mistake. Now I’m trying to make plays and trying to better the team,” Hartman said. “I definitely feel pretty good this year.”

For the Blackhawks who got their first taste here last season, the wide-eyed part of the NHL indoctrination is over. Now to keep building on the experience. And the confidence.

Blackhawks' Alexandre Fortin finding form again after offseason surgery

Blackhawks' Alexandre Fortin finding form again after offseason surgery

Alexandre Fortin was grateful to be back on the ice this weekend, back in Chicago where he wowed the Blackhawks last fall and nearly found a spot on the regular-season roster.

His thoughts are on repeating that camp performance. What he has to keep his mind clear of, however, is the sports hernia and surgery that sidelined him for part of the summer.

“It’s normal. You don’t want to get hurt again,” he said. “When you’re starting in camp like that, everyone’s good so you just have to get to a high level quick. At the same time, you just have to [listen to] your body and do things right.”

When Fortin has been on the ice, however, he’s been impressive. Following Sunday’s outing coach Joel Quenneville talked of the young forward showing the abilities that made him such a pleasant camp surprise in 2016.

“He’s coming off that injury, missed a day and change but [Sunday] all of a sudden he had his legs, his stride back,” Quenneville said. “He’s a fast player who can back off defensemen and this year, this camp, at least we got him out there and captured that speed. He can be useful.”

Fortin had sports hernia surgery in late June; he was present at the Blackhawks’ prospect camp in July but, because of the recent surgery, was limited to off-ice workouts. He was back on ice at the team’s prospect tournament in Traverse City, Mich., where the Blackhawks claimed the tournament title. That helped Fortin feel more comfortable again as he returned for his second Blackhawks camp, but he’ll keep an eye on things to make sure he doesn’t re-aggravate his hernia.

“I’m in good hands here and they know what to do with me,” I just do what they ask me. Camp is long, so we’ll just keep improving every day.”

The good thing is the Blackhawks are again happy with what Fortin is doing, even in his limited work at camp. The problem is there probably won’t be room for him, at least in the early going. The Blackhawks’ depth signings in early July mean a lot of one-way contracts, and other young guys – Alex DeBrincat and John Hayden among them – are also vying for a roster spot.

Fortin will mind his injury but still wants to go through this camp the same way he did the last one, playing his strongest game and looking for an opportunity. Whether it happens now or later, he’s happy to get it.

“I mean, camp is long so you have to focus on what you can see,” Fortin said. “Like [general manager] Stan Bowman and Joel said at the beginning of camp, everybody’s here to make the team and just try to find a way to do that. That’s my plan and I’ll do what I can do and see after.”

BRIEFLY

As they usually do, the Blackhawks will send most of their young players to their first preseason game on Tuesday night in Columbus.  Asked if he would send the Alex DeBrincat-Nick Schmaltz-Patrick Kane combo that has been together the last few days at camp, Quenneville said, “maybe one of those three will go.”

The Blackhawks will start cutting their training camp roster either Wednesday or Thursday.